Want to inspire people to live greener lives? Turn your initiatives into competitions or make people aware of social norms. Such marketing, says social psychologist Robert Cialdini, creates the best results for turning words into action. From the Atlantic Journal,
Cialdini terms this effect “social proof.” It’s a primitive instinct, much like the impulse that drives insects to swarm or birds to flock; people take in information and respond, without being aware of why they act the way they do. “On some base level, it’s survival recognition: these are the people who are most like me—we share the same circumstances,” Cialdini explained. He sees the power of this impulse less as peer pressure and more as peer information.
Cialdini's program will start issuing similar reports by the end of 2009 to 1 million customers across the country, including in California, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois and New York.
What do you think of Cialdini's social proof? Would knowing your neighbor's energy usage inspire you to decrease your own?
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